Olivia Truax

Climate emergency chance to use evidence-based solutions

9 December 2020

Declaring a climate emergency shows New Zealand is committed to evidence-based solutions in the face of the world’s most challenging problems, University of Otago PhD student Olivia Truax says.

Ms Truax, from the university’s geology department, was among a group of Antarctic scientists who supported Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s declaration of a climate emergency this month.

As the New Zealand Government committed the public sector to going carbon-neutral by 2025, Ms Truax and a group of other scientists from Antarctica New Zealand issued a statement saying the declaration was worth celebrating.

"Knowing that we have leaders who value science is inspiring as an early career researcher,” Ms Truax said.

Antarctica New Zealand chief scientific adviser Prof John Cottle, a former Outram resident and University of Otago alumnus, said it was important to continue to support climate-related science, to better understand the rate and magnitude, and likely impacts, of climate changes.

Scientists that formed part of the Antarctica New Zealand statement stressed the urgent need for change.

As countries spend billions to revitalise their economies in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an opportunity to "embrace visionary pathways’’ and quickly transition to a sustainable and low-carbon future, Antarctic science platform director Associate Prof Nancy Bertler said.

Every year dozens of scientists and researchers travel to Antarctica to answer pressing climate change-related questions about ice sheet melt and how it would affect sea-level rise in New Zealand and around the globe, the impact of increased temperatures on biodiversity and species distribution, and the affect a changing Southern Ocean would have on rainfall patterns in New Zealand.

Read the full article in the Otago Daily Times here